Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I'm thankful for my little "turkeys!"

I'm so incredibly thankful for all my students and supportive parents! It really is a blessing to be in a district with such great support! To get into the celebration spirit we had a Thanksgiving "fun" morning! We don't always have time to just have some "fun" so today, we pulled out all the stops and rewarded our students for working so hard! For our first part of the day we did two "crafivities."

First we wrote riddles and created our Turkey's in Disguise! These turned out so amazing. Students had to write clues to help protect the turkey and keep his identity hidden! We used Mrs. O's "Wanted: Turkey in Disguise Inference Activity" for our riddles and example. Check out Mrs. O's TPT store for your own free copy! This was perfect for 5th graders! Then we used the turkey from "Disguise a Turkey Project" from The Fabulous Life of an Elementary Teacher. Her turkey was super adorable and I couldn't not use him as our mascot for the day!

Here are some of our sensational Turkeys....
Right to Left: We have a Mickey, Frankenstein, Hello Kitty, Native American, Grandpa Turkey, Draco Malfoy, Luigi, Rocketship Turkey, Birthday cake, and a Bush Turkey.

So clever and the riddles were a great addition to make this perfect for an intermediate grade level activity! Our students loved it! Check it out for next year if you teach intermediate students! We were not disappointed! The kids were able share their riddles at the end to see if other students could "guess" their turkeys disguise! So much fun!

Our second "craftivity" was a Pinterest idea for creating conversation starters. We had the conversation starters printed out on card stock for our students to cut out. Then we made origami envelopes and decorated them before typing them up with a orange ribbon. The students LOVED the origami and now they have some thoughtful things to talk about over Thanksgiving! Just wish I had taken a photo of their cute envelopes and origami!

We also took our "Thank You" card photos today... A mustache really helps you look smarter!

And if you "mustache" I hope everyone has a wonderful break!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving Must Read: "Bugs for Dinner"

So, I know I'm a little bit late to link up with Amanda and Stacia from Collaboration Cuties, but I have a great must read Thanksgiving Mentor Text that is also very historically accurate! This is one of my favorite lessons to do right before Thanksgiving. We're actually making time for the lesson tomorrow even though it's our end of trimester party day!

My favorite text to use the day before Thanksgiving break is called Eating the Plates by Lucille Recht Penner. This book has multiple chapters but I only read the first chapter to my students entitled "Bugs for Dinner." This isn't your typical "yummy" Thanksgiving story!


I print out the entire first chapter so the students can follow along. We discuss some aspects of narrative nonfiction and then we get started. {It is a few pages to print out but I use the same copies year after year.} The chapter "Bugs for Dinner" talks about the hardships on the Mayflower including lice, no showers, sea sickness, and of course the lovely meals on the ship. My students always do a moan and groan after we read this chapter together. I love to do a dramatic read as we go through the Pilgrims pre-Thanksgiving meals on the ship.

Here's a glimpse at the first page...You can also preview the entire chapter on Google Books.http://books.google.com/books?id=UrGy7DOQZSIC&source=gbs_book_other_versions

My favorite page discusses the Pilgrims' meals of ship biscuits and squishy turnips! Doesn't it sound delightful? Mmmm....

Then after we finish, we complete a simple visualizing activity! I promise I do more than visualizing activities but this activity is really great because the author does add LOTS of imagery and details. So much so, that my students are usually moaning and groaning about all the "gross" things the Pilgrims had to endure on their journey. We also watch a short video about the size of the ship and realize that no one has any personal space to boot!

Here's my visualizing worksheet. Click on the image to get a free copy.

Hope everyone has a wonderful week! I'm extremely thankful that we only have a two day week this week! The kids and I both are need of a break!

Hope your Thanksgiving doesn't include "ship biscuits" or weevils!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tried It Tuesday: Photo cards as "Thank You" notes!

This week, I'm once again linking up with Holly from Fourth Grade Flipper for her Tried it Tuesday linky party! I always get so many great ideas from the other teachers! This is truly one of my favorite and most practical link-ups.

Today, I wanted to share a great idea my teaching partner had last year since holiday season is approaching fast. On our team we love how generous our students are during the holidays but writing all the Thank You notes before the end of the day or during plan can make my hand hurt! I see 53 students but we have 100 students on our "team." That means, I could potentially be writing 53+ "Thank You" cards. Plus, the math and science teacher on my team are writing up to 100 Thank You cards during the holiday season... Wowza!

So last year, we decided to split the cost of photo holiday cards to give out as Thank Yous. So many sites like Picaboo, Shutterfly, TinyPrints, and Simply to Impress have many different "holiday" options! Even Walgreens has photocards now! Plus, many are offering great deals before December! This year we were able to score a Groupon for Picaboo! For $30 dollars we can get 100 cards. Now, this is more expensive than my One Spot Thank You's, but they are personalized and after splitting the cost - it's less than $10 a teacher!

Last year, the homeroom teacher was in charge of writing out a thank you to just her homeroom's students. We all met during plan to collaborate on the notes and make sure we had similar gifts. But then we wrote and signed ONE note from all of us. Students who did not bring in gifts, still got a a holiday card as well on the day before break. This made our lives much easier and the students really seemed like like our  Merry & Bright cards.

Here's our card from Picaboo & pic from last year: (sorry about the glare, it's in my scrapbook)
This year, we're going to do a Christmas sweater picture for the kids. Check out some of the photocard sites! Many are offering discounts plus free shipping! Don't forget to also check out RetailMeNot to see if there is a coupon code. It's a an easy want to say "Thanks" without getting a hand cramp!

How do you handle "Thank Yous" at the holidays?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Peek at my Week: Florida Everglads & Nonfiction Research

Since, I've been a terrible blogger lately, I thought I'd at least link up with Jennifer's A Peek at my Week and give everyone at peek at my week! This week, we're going to wrap up our Southeast Region unit. We're going to spend some time on Tuesday this week reading about the Florida Everglades and looking at some photos. Then we're going to answer some text dependent questions after our reading. I was going to pull a Time For Kids article but then a coworker had a fantastic idea....

Why not read a blog for information? Of course!

My coworker found a great blog that has tons of information for our reading! The Florida Everglades Blog is great because it has a short amount of readings plus tons of pictures, maps, and other information to help students learn about the Everglades. The site is super user friendly and easy to navigate for students! I can't wait to use the site this week with the iPads in Social Studies!

In reading and writing, we've started our nonfiction unit. Students are going to be learning about text structures and and types of nonfiction this week. I found a great handout on TPT that goes over text structures. So, we'll be handing out MsJordanRead's Nonfiction Text Structures. We will use this handout while reading various articles throughout the week - looking for signal words to identify the type of structure. We also have a mix-up activity planned for later in the week to help students further practice text structures and types!

In writing, we're going to use our reading knowledge to help plan our own feature articles. Students are going to use an environmental issue to research and plan an article using the Problem-Solution format. It should be a fun week of nonfiction reading and research! Only 7 more days until break....

What's your week look like?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Five for Friday: Slant Box, Cold Weather, & a New Book!

Today I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for my last week of the trimester recap! It's been a very crazy week because it's the end of the trimester which means grades are uploaded on Monday... So, of course I still have a few things left in my teacher bag to finish up. Such is the life of a procrastinator.... But, in the meantime, here's a peek at my life this past week.

I got my #SlantBox this week and of course it was amazing! Thank so much to Lauren at The Traveling Teacher for putting together an extremely amazing box! She really made education less "scary" by all her treasures :) Plus, she made my box more Thanksgiving themed since it's my favorite holiday! I love all my fall goodies and can't thank her enough! It was also great getting to know Kim from Mrs. H's Resource Room whom I sent my box to!

Here's my teacher goodies:

We had our first snow fall this week! Driving into work was beautiful as the dusting covered all the ground and trees. Just a dusting is all I need - I hate driving in "inches" of snow!

With the cold weather brought out my need to feel warm and cozy! My newest addiction and discovery is McDonald's White Chocolate Mocha! OMG! This is delicious coffee at it's best! I'm so excited for this new flavor. I also helped Iggy get warm and cozy by purchasing him a fleece hat from Target.

Found a new historical fiction novel that I might try to incorporate into our unit. It's Cincinnati Public Library's juvenile book of the month. So it has to be good right? The library usually doesn't disappoint. The book is about slavery after The Emancipation Proclamation. I can't wait to start reading it over Thanksgiving Break! The book is called Crow by Barbara Wright.

We're cruising through our regions of the United States! We're wrapping up the Southeast this week and going to start the Midwest by Friday! We're a little behind schedule on the calendar but the students hare having a great time creating scrapbooks and mementos of our cross country travels! Our word wall has been one of my favorite parts of the unit. Students have done a stellar job and I love seeing all their work hanging up on the walls as we go through our regions! Click here to grab a copy of my Midwest words and Midwest word wall worksheet. *Our words align with the Social Studies Alive text series.

How was your week?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

It's Currently Sunday...and November?!

I can't believe the first week of November is already over! Wow! Where has the time gone? I feel like I was just getting my room set up and organizing my library for my fifth graders. September and October have been a blur... So, it's time to link up with Farley for what's Currently going on in November.


Listening: The Piano Guys are an instrumental duo that take current songs and convert them to classical music. It's my favorite Pandora station to share with my class! I'm loving "Titanium" and "What Makes you Beautiful." You should check them out -- they're a great stress relief and their Pandora station is perfect for Writing Workshop! 

Loving &Thinking : November is always the end of the trimester for us. So grades are due. All our common assessments are given, due, and need to be graded. Plus, I just collected 54 essays that need to be in the grade book by November 15th. That's a little a lot stressful! So, I've been passing the time with instagram. I was never very faithful with it or very interested until recently! I love the photo apps and all the cool features and uploading a snapshot or two daily. A Beautiful Mess is my favorite app and although it's a paid app, definitely worth it! I've even splurged on many of the add-ons because I love the cute font and "doodles."

Wanting: Anyone else wanting someone to just come in clean, haul away/ throw away the junk, and then organize your house? For only two people we have a lot of clutter and junk! I personally just want to haul most of our "stuff" to the trash because it's taking over our small space. I  know I just need to take a deep breath, relax and think happy thoughts about it all disappearing.

Needing: Sometimes I need to get out of the house to get things graded and done. Panera is my favorite Saturday and Sunday grading spot. I can get a delicious pastry and multiple cups of coffee. And some how because I'm not worried about my house - I can grade lots of papers in a crowded restaurant! 
Yummy Pin: These roasted green beans are super yummilicious and a proven A+ side dish!  This side dish is a huge hit in our house! Green beans, mushrooms, and parmesan cheese? Yes, please! I also made them as a side dish for our Easter Family gathering and they were ALL GONE! It's fast, easy and thanks to Kalyn's Kitchen there are even step by step photo directions. This green bean medley perfect for Thanksgiving or a Tuesday night dinner.

Don't forget to link up with Farley at Oh Boy Fourth Grade to share your November musings :)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thursday Throw Down: Nonfiction Scavenger Hunt


I'm linking up for the first time with Erin from I'm Lovin' Lit for her Thursday Throw Down! I love the idea of trying to make lessons more interactive and engaging. I've been trying to incorporate interactive notebooks this year and get the kids up and moving whenever possible!

Today, we started our nonfiction Readers Workshop unit. To get things started students took a survey over all the "I Can" statements we will cover in nonfiction. They had to rank the statements on a scale of 1 - 4. "1" being I've never heard of this before and "4" being I could teach this to someone else. The handout below was created by an awesome co-worker! Click the image to grab your own copy.


 After previewing our reading unit, we went on a scavenger hunt! Kids were grouped in partners and had to use the text features around my room to create an example and how it helps readers decide what's important. I gave them the text feature and then they had to fill in the rest on their notes sheet.
My note sheet is a little different than the one above but I found this sheet online (after mine had already been copied). This handout from Really Good Stuff that allows for a scavenger "hunt" type lesson plus it could be copied front to back for my larger writers. Click the image for a link to this handout plus text feature posters!

 After we went over the directions and were partnered up, teams set off around the room to find examples and then explain how text features help readers determine what's important. Here are some of my posters -- most were from the teacher's edition of National Geographic Pathfinder magazine. A few others are from Scholastic News. Best of all -- they were free and I already had lots of them from all the years of magazine subscriptions!
How do you get your students interacting with texts?


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tried it Tuesday: Quick Letter Pads

I've been a little absent from the blogging world lately... our first Common Assessments are this week and I'm trying to get everything wrapped up before the end of the trimester. Plus, we've had a few last minute conferences and extended conferences over email before our report cards are due next week. So, I've been really trying to get everything up on the blog so all I have do is hit submit. We'll see how it works out this week :) I really love blogging - it's my me time and time to check out everyone else's great ideas but I also need to clean my dining room, finish up the dishes, and find some upper level nonfiction related extension activities for my gifted students. It's a little overwhelming for a Tuesday!
So this week, I'm linking up with Holly from Fourth Grade Flipper to share about a time saving and stress free product for Tried it Tuesday :) I've recently purchased the Art Skills Quick Letter Pads in black and white and metallic. I'm in love with them! They are letter post-it notes in convenient little pads. I used them for letter on several posters and signs hanging around my room. Although I love my Cricut, these letters were uniform, easy to adhere, and BAM! it was finished! I also used the metallic letters on my explorer station posters last month. The pack is a little pricey at about $5.99 (I bought mine at the grocery store) but you get several of each letter to use and they are already sticky. They also come in neon colors as well as a "Jumbo" size.

Here's what my pack looks like:

Here's mine in use:

If you're looking to create words or posters quick - these little post-it letters are your friend! They look nice and save you lots of time! Caution: You will want to laminate your finished product because they are thin like post-it notes and not quite as sticky as actual post-its.

What cool new things have you tried?

Monday, November 4, 2013

My Daily Schedule Linky

As I was doing some blog reading while trying to recover from this terrible cold this week, I stumbled upon a great new linky party! So, today, I'm linking up with Susan from TGIF for the "What's your Schedule?" linky!

So here's a peek at my daily schedule: 
Special thanks to Graphics from the Pond for the adorable border and smiles!

I essentially teach two identical 2-hour blocks of Language Arts (Reader's Workshop, Writer's Workshop, spelling, word work, and grammar) and Social Studies. Between those blocks this year we have some interruptions for specials and intervention. During our "switch" students go to math and science for an hour each. They have a separate switch time between math and science since they see four blocks of students while my LA/SS teaching partner and I only see two blocks of students.

Homeroom: Homeroom/skills time is when we: write in our planners, collect ALL homework for every teacher, give out write-ups, collect office notes, take attendance, assign class jobs, "pay" students each week, assign absent folder collectors, etc. After students finish with all the homeroom "business" they have a Science Studies Weekly reading assignment to complete. This allows for not only nonfiction reading time but also extra science enrichment/font-loading. Some students are exempt from this assignment and they use this time to practice math facts, get on MobyMax, or receive additional RTI. Teacher Tip: Since students are working on an independent assignment - this gives us, the teachers, time to meet with absent students, allow students to finish a test, work in RTI groups, reply to an email, or take care of any other classroom business!

Specials: In fifth grade, students go as a class to specials. Their specials rotate weekly so that they will see each teacher approximately the same number of days/weeks per trimester. Our specials include art, music, health, gym, and technology. 

Intervention: Intervention time is when students receive pull out services. These services include support education services, speech, OT, gifted services, and pull out reading help. The students that are left spend the 40 minute block working on enrichment activities or in pull out math group. As a team we try to have a schedule for our intervention block. This year we have: Movie Mondays (educational videos), Teacher Choice Tuesday  (teacher creates an enrichment lesson for math, reading, social studies, or science), Games Wednesday (educational games like Apples to Apples or Quiddler, Spelling & Math Thursdays (spelling enrichment for students who do not need extra math help; math pull out for students needing extra math help), Friday Store/Silent Reading. * The teacher who creates Tuesday's lesson swaps with the Game rooms on Thursday to teach the lesson to those students and vice versa.

We've tried many, many different variations for intervention. Last year, intervention was last period for our team so it was great because we could swap kids and put them into different groups. It was nice to have a "switch" time for intervention. This year since it's in the middle of a teaching block, that is just not possible.

Team Meeting: Our schedule looks the same Monday - Thursday. On Friday, we have a brief homeroom time since we are collecting the morning science work with the other homework. We start class right after homework collection on those days.  Therefore, we take that extra time and move our "homeroom time" from 11:00 - 11:20 for our weekly Team Meeting. 

Other: We go to library every other week from 9:00-9:30 {Block 1}  and from 12:30 - 1:00 {Block 2}. My teaching partner and I go together and take 54 students at time. It's worked out great for book clubs and for days when we do "open wall" team teaching. We rotate what we skip that day due to library it could be - Reading, Writing, or Social Studies.

Don't forget to head over to TGIF to check out everyone else's daily schedules! It's amazing to see how everyone else's days look!

Happy Monday,


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Visualizing and Veterans Day

Last week, I blogged about some great reads for Veterans Day. You can check them out on my earlier post here. But today I want to focus on how to incorporate reading strategies into Social Studies. I try and get the most out of my limited time with my students. So, if I can create a reading lesson from a Social Studies text, I try to use the "double whammy."

This week, we're in between reading units until after our Character Unit Common Assessment (end of unit test). So, in preparation for Veterans Day, we'll be reading America's White Table by Margot Thesis Raven. This historical fiction / informational text is a great read prior to Veterans Day or Memorial Day. The premise of the book is about a fictional family setting a white table for Veterans Day that is meant to symbolize what it means to be a veteran. Interwoven into the meaning behind the white table is a story about Uncle John and his heroic acts while he was in the service. The words and descriptions in the story are extremely vivid -  great for a visualizing activity!

Here's what my teaching partner and I will be handing out to the students after we read the story:
To try this activity in your classroom just click the image for your own visualizing handout. Or you can download from Dropbox here. Handouts like these are simple way to get our students using reading strategies in Social Studies. Hopefully, our students are starting to realize that they are always readers - not just a reader during Reader's Workshop.

Have a wonderful Sunday,


Friday, November 1, 2013

Five for Friday: It really can't be November!

It's November? What?! This week was a little jammed packed to say the least! So, I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching's Five for Friday to try and remember this crazy week!  I don't even know where October has gone. But, nonetheless here is a recap of our week.

We introduced our "Just Three Words" project for Veterans Day this week. Students started creating posters and other media to show veterans how much we appreciate their service. I learned this year that "Veteran(s) Got Swag".... we may need a few more mentor sentences to make it grammatically correct but you have to love 5th grade heart :)

My pups were dressed and ready for Halloween, too bad it poured down rain! Boo! Raincoats and umbrellas were the number one Halloween accessories in Cincy! So, now we have a large bucket of candy for our house and the pups had to be paparazzi'd since I didn't have any trick-or-treaters.

One one homeroom is half way through the great state race! They even acquired Hawaii! They have 26 postcards but the other classrooms are not far behind... I can't believe how motivated students are to get to the finish. Although, we did promise a "sweet" victory treat! If you want more information on The Great State Race check it out here.  

Our reading challenge ended with our Record Breaking Trike Race today! Students were super pumped for teachers and principals riding giant tricycles. The race was a close one at first but the White Lightning pulled away with a the win in the end! Here's a little recap of our celebration for reading 1,000,000 minutes as a school in a week!

After a very, very long Friday, I'm exhausted. Plus, I think I'm getting sick. I have a sore throat, my nose is runny, and my eyes burn. This is no good. I ordered pizza so I could get a 2-liter of Sprite and I've already take some E-mergency. I'm in desperation mode. I hope need I feel human again to get caught up on grading and some lesson planning for our next region. Ugh. At least I have a few days off to get better and a snuggle buddy!

Hope you had a spook-tacular week! 
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